The Hon’ble Ms Pratibha Devi Singh Patil
President of Republic of India,
Newspapers of Monday, the 26 of March inform me that you have undertaken 12 foreign trips covering 22 countries across four continents during your tenure, mostly accompanied by your family members.
The news report cares to tell me that your trips cost the public exchequer a whopping Rs. 205 crore. The report also conveys that before the end of your five-year tenure you may be off to South Africa.
I have noted that Air India had incurred over Rs. 169 crore on use of chartered aircraft. A sum of Rs. 36 crore has been incurred on your accommodation, local travel, daily Allowance and miscellaneous expenses, during these tours.
Spending a total of 79 days abroad, you have been to Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Bhutan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Spain, Poland, Russia, Tajikistan, the UK, Cyprus, China, Laos, Cambodia, the UAE, Syria, Mauritius, South Korea, Switzerland and Austria.
Your immediate predecessor Dr APJ Abdul Kalam undertook seven trips to 17 countries during his tenure and remained out of the country for 47 days. KR Narayanan covered 10 countries in six trips. SD Sharma visited 16 countries in four trips.
Though the journalist writing the report is not sure as details of other Presidents were not available but it is unlikely that your record of foreign travel is matched by any of your predecessors.
While congratulating you on this feat of yours, Hon’ble President Madam, may I remind you that you are the President of India where two foremost points of debate relate to poverty.
One issue is that whether the percentage of poor in the country is more than 70 percent of its total population or is it slightly less than that. The other issue being debated is that whether a person who earns Rs. 29 should be considered out of ambit of poverty or should he still be considered a poor.
A majority of our population cannot afford two square meals a day. I think you have better resources to get exact figures of how many people go without food daily in this country, how many people remain underfed, how many children are undernourished, how many people don’t have a room to live in and how many parents could not afford to send their wards to schools.
No, I can’t dare to offend you as I know that you are entitled to all this as President of India and it is your prerogative to fly out of country as many times you like, for as many days you decide and with the people of your choice and the family always comes first, I know.(...contd.)